For residents with disabilities, how accessible is New Eastside?

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

If you were in a wheelchair, could you get to your favorite restaurant? Would your daily commute be possible if you could no longer walk? Most of us do not bother to ask these questions, but for some New Eastside residents these are questions that must be asked every time they leave their home.

With its wealth of new construction, bus routes, the accessible Washington/Wabash CTA station, Pedway access and the wheelchair-friendly Millennium and Maggie Daley parks, New Eastside is more accommodating for people with disabilities than many other neighborhoods. While the amenities do not add up to an all-accessible utopia, they do make for an environment more easy to navigate—especially in the bitter throes of a Chicago winter—than many others in the city.

Disability advocate Michele Lee outside the AON Center, 200 E. Randolph St. Photo by B. David Zarley.

Providing shelter and connecting businesses, cultural institutions and transit options, the Pedway system is often a viable route for residents with disabilities. Maureen Reagan, president and founder of MRA Architects Ltd. uses a powered wheelchair and said the Pedway is “a godsend in inclement weather.”

Accessibility advocate Michele Lee, who also uses a powered wheelchair, agreed. “I think it’s great that New Eastside has the Pedway system ingrained in it,” she said. An employee of AON and former resident of Harbor Point, Lee also serves as a local guide for Google Maps, helping to rate and collect data on accessibility for various locations.

Accessibility is not only important for people with disabilities, but also useful for parents pushing strollers, shoppers shuttling carts and travelers trailing luggage. However, not all parts of the Pedway are accessible. The Pedway entrance and exit at Prudential Plaza, next to Millennium Station are obstacles faced by travelers. With revolving doors, escalators and stairs, this entrance and exit form an impassable gauntlet for those who need an accessible route from New Eastside into the Loop.

A little-known accessible path does exist, connecting New Eastside to the Thompson Center in the Loop. However, no maps suggest the long route which passes beneath the Aon building and along a Metra train platform, and most people discover it only after really exploring the Pedway. In order to increase awareness of the wheelchair-friendly route, community Pedway tours sponsored by New Eastside News, have led groups along the accessible path from New Eastside to Macy’s on State St.

Macy’s Pedway elevator. Photo by B. David Zarley.

City-wide programs aim to help address accessibility challenges. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities have a variety of useful resources such as Accessibility Compliance Units, which can be requested for site inspections. Groups like Access Living advocate for people with disabilities, providing information and referrals, and teaches skills for budgeting, moving around town and seeking employment.

For more information about the accessible Pedway route, community members should contact

New Eastside News.

Email info@neweastsidecommunity.com or

call 312-690-3092.

Workers ready Skating Ribbon and McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

The ice comes under the cover of darkness. Layer upon layer, thin sheets of water are laid down hot by Zamboni ice resurfacers. Freed from the deleterious effects of direct sunlight, the layers accumulate until they make a fine sheet. Come 12 p.m. on November 17, visitors will be able to lace up their skates and feel the bite of their blades as another skating season begins. 

Both the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon are managed and maintained by Westrec, a marina management company that also contracts with Chicago Harbors. Before Westrec begins to lay ice, the glycol cooling systems running under the rinks are checked to make sure the chillers, compressors and piping that carries the glycol are running properly. The glycol system takes one to two days to cool the surface of the rink.

This maintenance process begins in the fall, according to Westrec Executive Vice President Scott Stevenson. “When the weather gets cool enough, we’ll then start to build ice,” he said. Temperatures should be below freezing at night and no higher than 40 degrees during the day, according to Stevenson.

After the surfaces are completely coated with these initial layers of water, the ice gets painted white with water soluble paint. White is not merely an aesthetic choice. “The white paint helps reflect the sunlight and helps us maintain the ice during the skating season,” Stevenson said. While the ice can withstand spring-like temperatures—55 to 60 degrees on the Ribbon or even a balmy 65 degrees at McCormick Tribune—sunshine is the enemy.

After the paint is applied, the Zamboni lays down up to 30 layers of ice, putting two to three inches between skaters and the paint. In addition to creating a smoother surface—the best ice, Stevenson explained, comes by laying hot water—the thin layers that the Zamboni lays even allows for ice to build on the slanted and uneven grade of the Ribbon. With problem-spot shaving blades, regular Zamboni passes are the majority of the maintenance the rink and Ribbon require during the season.

Sophie Slotnik (left), Dillon Johnston and Isa-belle Pihlträd skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in winter 2016. Photo by Elizabeth Johnston.

“It’s kind of a wintertime tradition for many people to come downtown and skate in Millennium Park,” said Kenya Merritt, deputy commissioner at the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Merritt says Loop skating has long been the norm in Chicago. Before the Millennium Park rinks were open, downtown skating took place at a rink that was located where Block 37 now stands, 108 N. State St.

Bright Horizon’s Fall Fest gives to charity

By Miriam Finder Annenberg | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

New Eastside’s Bright Horizons preschool kicked off a partnership with the Maryville Mom’s Recovery Home in West Town on October 21 during Bright Horizon’s Fall Fest.

The festival invited families from the neighborhood to the field in Lake Shore East Park for face painting, pumpkin decorating, and games, with all proceeds aiding in the creation of a Bright Space at the Recovery Home, scheduled to open in December.

Bright Spaces are part of Bright Horizon’s mission of supporting childhood education and development. The warm, inviting spaces, situated at a local non-profit,, feature reading spaces and arts-and-crafts areas for children.

Jennifer Smith, Assistant Director of Bright Horizons at Lakeshore East, called the project an exciting partnership that she and school director Amber Rue looked forward to initiating. 

Children line up for face painting in the Lake Shore East Park. Photo by Miriam Finder.

The Maryville Mom’s Recovery Home opened last year with the goal of keeping families intact while mothers deal with mental health and substance abuse issues. Mothers live in the center with their children as they undergo onsite sobriety and mental health treatment, while also developing parenting skills and occupational training.

Bright Horizons gathered proceeds through ticket sales, used for games and activities at Fall Fest.

“Jennifer and I got together and thought it would be wonderful to have a space that fostered loving relationships,” says Katrina Ivory, Parent Educator at the Recovery Home. “We’re all hoping it all pulls together in mid-December.”

Once completed, the Bright Space will give residents a place to come together and relax, play, and bond.

“It’s just really one of those collaborations where it…encourages children’s growth,” Rue says. “The right people are in place.”

Moving forward, Rue said Bright Horizons plans to continue the partnership with Maryville Mom’s Recovery Home, possibly by offering a cooking class or bringing families from the two organizations together for an art night.

 

Helping the homeless

Residents give food, job training to Chicago’s homeless

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

The Chicago Help Initiative (CHI)—founded by longtime New Eastside resident Jacqueline Hayes—is a local, not-for-profit organization that provides meals, job resources, health services and more to Chicago’s homeless and underprivileged.

It started in 1999, when Hayes was a real estate broker who often encountered homeless people sleeping on the stoops of properties she was showing. “I noticed it was a problem,” Hayes said, “and I had to do something about it.” Over the past 17 years, CHI has amassed a consortium of helping hands to not only address hunger, but also to connect guests with resources and social services that allow them to work toward a better life. “We aim to get five to six people a year off the street and into jobs,” Hayes said.

CHI Founder Jacqueline Hayes (far right) and regular volunteer Susan Gold (third from left) host dinner guests at Catholic Charities, 721 N. Lasal-le St. Photo by Angela Gagnon

The process starts with nourishment. Every Wednesday night, CHI serves a hot meal to about 130 guests in the dining hall at Catholic Charities, 721 N. LaSalle St., but the popular weekly dinners include more than just food. Guests are treated with dignity and respect from the moment they enter the dining hall. Some guests are part of the Weekly Jobs Club, which provides valuable job training skills and assists with difficult transitions back into the workforce.

A guest speaker from a partner program begins the night by sharing resources relating to finding shelter, medical care or job training. Guests can peruse a resource table in the dining hall that provides more information about the speaker’s topics. They can also visit the health services table where local medical staff are on hand to administer care. When it’s time for dinner, table numbers are called and guests line up to receive their meals. Local corporations, restaurants, hotels, businesses and individuals sponsor the meals and provide the food. CHI also puts together about 60 bagged meals to distribute to those they cannot accommodate in the dining hall.

New Eastside resident, kitchen runner and board member Susan Gold has been an integral part of these dinners for the past 14 years. “CHI has grown tremendously from just a meal,” Gold said. “The guests are really taken care of and you become close to the people who come there to eat.”

Terry Coyner, a fairly recent New East side resident, attended her first Wednesday night dinner as a volunteer in late September. Coyner connected after passing so many homeless people on the streets. “I was really happy to see that I could just sign up to volunteer and start helping within a few days,” she said.

Her duty on that first evening was to give each guest a small gift at the end of the night—a cup of pudding and a spoon. “I saw so much gratitude from the guests who come for dinner, but the experience is also rewarding to those who help,” Coyner said. In the eyes of the guests, volunteers are more than just a helping hand. Longtime guest Rochelle Baker spoke fondly about the people she’s met at CHI and the experiences she wouldn’t have had without the help of the organization. “You just feel like you matter,” she said. “Like somebody cares.”

The CHI dinners are beneficial to the volunteers as well as the guests. “Volunteering with us is a very addictive experience,” Hayes said. “You feel like you’re doing good. It’s very rewarding.”

Currently, CHI is looking for tutors for their adult learning program, which runs weekly from 3–4 p.m. To volunteer in this capacity or to find out more about opportunities to help, contact Executive Director Doug Fraser (dfraser@chicagohelpinitiative.org) or visit their website at

CAPS meeting focuses on alley safety and using 911

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

November 11, 2017

Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, meetings covering the New Eastside in the city’s 1st District returned to their alternating location schedule this month. With dozens of residents in attendance from both sides of the district, CAPS liaison Nicole Bryson reported on crime in the district, and addressed citizens’ concerns at a 400 E Randolph St. meeting on Nov 9.

“Crime is down in all of the beats,” said Bryson, “And we don’t have any active theft patterns in the 1st District currently.” At the last beat meeting on Oct. 18, Bryson had alerted residents to high levels of theft in the area, mostly concerning retail shoplifting and robberies from restaurants and bars.

At this month’s meeting, the first issue raised was one that residents said they have brought to the city’s attention several times – parking during festivals. One resident said she was concerned that during festivals held in Millennium Park, especially Chicago Gourmet, buses and other large vehicles park on Randolph Street between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive, leaving little room for vehicles to pass through. Residents were concerned that police, ambulances, and fire trucks would not be able to navigate the street in the event of an emergency.

According to the resident reporting the issue, there were no traffic control persons on site, and a call to 311 did not result in any clearing of the street.

Bryson agreed that a festival of that size should have some sort of traffic control, “That’s probably something that we need to implement going forward.” Bryson urged residents to call 911 not 311 with such concerns in the future. 311 should be used for events that aren’t ongoing, said Bryson.

As other residents voiced new concerns, Bryson said she would also look into graffiti on newspaper boxes in front of the AON building, and the timing of cross walk signals and traffic lights for crossings Van Buren Street and Michigan Avenue.

While a variety of topics were discussed throughout the hour long gathering of police and residents, one main concern focused on alley way safety.

According to a group of residents who live near the intersection of South State Street and East Van Buren Street, near the DePaul Center, an alleyway near their building has recently been crowded by a group of people who are not residents of the building. Residents say they have witnessed incidents of the individuals exposing themselves, making violent threats, and using drugs.

According to Bryson, the police had been alerted to this group, who Bryson said police believe are the same group of people that previously to gathered in the area of Pritzker Park. She added that the department would “put some special attention in that area” going forward.

In September, the Chicago Police Department Narcotics Division released a report, distributed by CAPS, that detailed a recent Narcotics Enforcement Mission in the Pritzker Park Area. According to the report, ten individuals were arrested in Pritzker Park and charged with distribution or possession of a controlled substance, and as of September, the department is still looking for five more suspects.

The Narcotics division said most of the individuals arrested were members of the Black Disciples or Gangster Disciples street gang, and that the department seized cash and narcotics at the scene.The operation, carried out by the Narcotics Division and 1st district officers, was spurred by residents complaining about public violence and narcotic sales near the park.

At the CAPS meeting, residents were happy to hear that the CPD were already aware of this issue. “We’re actively trying to do something,” said one resident, who said she had met with her building’s security team. “We just want the police to know and continue to help us out.”

Bryson again encouraged residents to call 911 anytime they see suspicious persons or activity in the alleyway.

“If they aren’t walking or driving through or bringing the trash, people shouldn’t be in the alleys,” said Bryson, “If they are, you can call and report it every time.”

For further safety on the issue, Bryson and Bailey distributed a handout of CAPS Alley Safety Tips, signed off by Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The handout says that while alleys should primarily be used for off street parking and garbage pick up, “unfortunately, alleys can also provide cover for burglars and other criminals.” One resident at the meeting pointed out that the alley near the DePaul center is covered, shielding the group from harsh weather conditions.

In the CAPS handout, residents are encouraged to abide by the following safety tips:

  • Secure your back door and gate.

Burglars often enter through a less-visible back door, so “locks and visibility of entrances are your best defense against crime.” CAPS also recommends using deadbolts.

  • Secure your garage.

According to CAPS, garages offer an opportunity for theft and a place to hide. Residents should consider using an automatic garage door opener that will help make coming home safer, and using light or motion sensing lighting devices near their garage.

  • Light your alley and backyard.

Residents should “deny criminals the cover of darkness” by making sure the rear of the property is well lit. One way to do this is to immediately report any city installed lights that are out or not working properly.

  • Place your address in the back of your property.

This helps police if a criminal uses your property as access to an alley. It’s important to remember that your address should be on your home, door, or gate, not only on on garbage cans or other moveable objects.

  • Don’t use alleys as alternatives to streets.

Using more heavily traveled streets is safer, especially if traveling alone and at night.

  • Keep your alley clean.

Accumulated trash can send a signal to criminals that no one cares about the neighborhood, and may not report a crime.

Throughout the meeting, Bryson continuously repeated one safety tip: call 911.

“Taxpayers of the city of Chicago, stop calling 311,” said Bryson. “You pay for 911, use your city services.”

The officer said that even if officers don’t respond to a 911 call, the calls for service are recorded and an event is logged into the system.

“It doesn’t have to be life threatening, because not every area in Chicago has life threatening issues. If it is a current issue that’s happening now, call us,” said Bryson.

Bryson said the 311 line should be used for concerns of things that have happened in the past, not current issues, and that residents shouldn’t be worried about taking emergency services away from another crime, adding that calls are prioritized as they come in.

“We’re busy and overwhelmed but call us anyway.” said Bryson “We respond to every inch of this city.”

At the meeting several residents also commented on seeing an increased number of patrolmen in the area, a concern brought up in September, and commended the CPD for their increased effort.

Grant Park gets a makeover

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Visitors to Grant Park can expect to see major changes in the next year, with the team at the Grant Park Conservancy setting goals for a better looking green space.

The non-profit group has launched a few initiatives that will improve the appearance of Grant Park with repainted fences, new landscaping and artistic advertisements.

Earlier this year, the GPC teamed up with Bailey Nurseries, Inc., in Newport, Minn. In an effort to make Grant Park greener, the nursery will donate large scale landscaping projects to Grant Park on an annual basis beginning this year.

In October, the company gave Grant Park hundreds of trees, bushes and flowers, along with all the materials necessary to plant the new greenery. According to GPC President Bob O’Neill, the conservancy is currently putting out bids for contractors to manage the new landscaping.

“A lot of times with volunteer projects, people walk away from projects and the plants die,” said O’Neill, “A project of this size means having a contract plan for taking care of the landscaping.”

This is the first year the GPC is working with Bailey, “It’s all very new, we’re still building the relationship with them,” said O’Neil.

The conservancy teamed up with the Minnesota nursery after it donated landscaping to the Lincoln Park Zoo for this year’s Chicago Ale Fest. O’Neill said the nursery then found their way to them through word of mouth.

According to O’Neill, the conservancy wants the partnership to be a serious longterm project. Moving forward, Bailey will donate more plants and planting materials every year to improve a different area of the park. This year, he hopes to start by filling flower beds in the skate park area.

In exchange for their donations, O’Neill said the nursery hopes to promote their products at future festivals in Grant Park, but assured it will be done tastefully.  The nursery will decorate festivals with donated flowers and plants that will have small “Bailey Nurseries” labels on the potting. “They’re very good at being subtle about it,” said O’Neill.

Tasteful advertising in Grant Park is a must for the Grant Park Conservancy.

The group this summer launched another initiative to beautify the park through its advertisements, by teaming up with local artists to make commercial advertisements and park notices more aesthetically pleasing.

“Every ad can be art and advertising” said O’Neill, who said the GPC hopes to make ads in the underpass that connects the park to lake more artistic.

In October, O’Neill said the conservancy was negotiating with the park’s concession  management team. The president said he understands that private advertising is needed in the parks, but doesn’t think it needs to be an eyesore.

“If we’re going to have advertising, which raises revenue, then we need to make it creative and artistic.”

In recent years, cell phone companies have advertised in the underpasses, and the conservancy hopes to work with these companies to negotiate contracts for 2018 advertising campaigns that are more artistic.

“It’s a good thing to raise private revenue because then property taxes don’t have to go to park improvement, but it has to be done in an artistic, green way,” said O’Neill.

The conservancy is also working with Park Concessions Management, headquartered in Grant Park, to improve the appearance of park related ads and notices.

This includes signage for food and drink options, along with ads for outdoor wifi and cell phone charging stations that are being put up in parks. Such signs are popping up on the Oak Street and North Avenue beaches, in Grant Park, by DuSable Harbor, and in several other areas that have cafes and concession stands.

“The idea is to make them effective adverts but more importantly to make them aesthetically pleasing to avoid over-corporatizing the parks,” said O’Neill. The conservancy has already made moves to show the management group artist renderings, has brought artists in to give presentations, and have more upcoming meetings on the calendar.

One local artist, Abdel Morched, has delivered a presentation to show off ideas for more creative ad campaigns. Morched is the owner of “Color and Chill” –  a company that markets advanced coloring books with complex geometric designs. According to O’Neil, Morched works primarily in graphic design that he creates on a tablet and transfers to printed work.

Artist Rich Alapack has also teamed up with the conservancy to focus on more 3-D art. Alapack is currently working on a tile mural in the West Loop, and previously designed the “We All Live Here” project at Ogden International School of Chicago. Alapack’s collaboration with community members is what stood out to the conservancy.

“We’re looking at involving not only more artists but members of the community,” said O’Neill. “Alapack doesn’t do projects without involving people, that’s what he stands for.”

O’Neill said the artist’s idea for Grant Park involves the skate park area. Alapack is looking to create an installation, potentially used for advertising in the skate park, that will be made entirely of skateboard decks and wheels.

The group is also working with artists to explore even more creative avenues for advertising, including LED lighting and projections onto trees, especially during festivals.

As the conservancy works to beautify the park grounds, they aren’t forgetting the entryways and street views.

Members of the conservancy have led a volunteer effort to paint all the peeling fences along both sides of Columbus Drive from Balbo Drive to Roosevelt Road. With four sides of fencing around each tree on the sidewalk for several blocks, O’Neill said repainting the wrought iron is “A huge ongoing project.”

Members of the conservancy, supplying all the paint, brushes and scrapers, have been recruiting companies to volunteer their time and is actively seeking more volunteers. The project is expected to take three years.

CPD warns of high theft rates in New Eastside

Officer Nicole Bryson speaks with residents during a CAPS meeting on Oct. 12th.

By Taylor Hartz

October 18, 2017

Crime levels are low in the New Eastside, but thefts are high.

According to Chicago Police Department officer Nicole Bryson, the CPD district that includes Millennium Park and Grant Park experiences higher rates of theft than other parts of the city. At a recent meeting of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, officers gave residents of the first district tips for protecting themselves and their property.

Once a month, officers from CAPS meet with neighbors to discuss concerns of crime in the area. This month, the group met at 130 N. Garland Court on Oct. 12, with about seven residents in attendance.

Bryson told attendees that theft surpasses any other type of crime in the New Eastside area, mostly targeting tourists and retail stores. Although residents don’t have much to worry about when it comes to violent crime in the New Eastside, Bryson said they should always be on high alert for theft.

“We have more quality of life issues than violent crime in this district,” Bryson said, ”but this is the city of Chicago, you have to be aware of your surroundings.”

While instances of violent crime are few and far apart, Bryson said theft is almost constant.

“We see theft all day because of the way the district is structured,” said Bryson, “It’s a big area, popular, the place to be.”

The high theft rate has to do with the volume of stores, restaurants and other businesses, and the fact that “this was a business district first, then the residential came in,” said Bryson.

Lately, Bryson said the CPD has seen an increase in people walking by and swiping phones from tables at restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Bryson warned residents to never leave their phone unattended, even for a moment.

Another tactic that has become common in the area is theft of purses or bags that are placed beneath chairs, or hung from chair backs. Bryson said thieves will sneakily steal personal items when owners aren’t paying attention.This type of theft mostly affects tourists, but locals can fall victim too. Bryson said it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when dining or drinking out, even at familiar establishments.

On the street or when riding the CTA, the CPD warns that thieves will be on the lookout for your electronics. The department recently began circulating a warning ad that suggests that if you’re distracted by your phone, thieves see you as blindfolded, and an easy target.

One resident referenced the recent incident involving 23-year-old Victor Medina, who was robbed for his cellphone and backpack and thrown into Lake Michigan in late September. Medina was on a path behind Shedd Aquarium, in the 1200-block of South Lake Shore Drive when three men and two women robbed and beat him in the early morning hours.

Bryson said that while this was an isolated incident not often seen in the area, residents should take warning not to have items like cellphones and laptops out in clear view late at night, and to be cautious of being out alone late at night.   

While there are certainly precautions that residents can take to avoid having their property stolen, Bryson said the the majority of thefts target businesses, not individuals.

Shoplifting from area stores contributes a great deal to theft rates in and around New Eastside, as does a type of theft called “deceptive practice.” According to the Illinois General Assembly, deceptive practice occurs when an individual uses lies, false intentions or threats to keep another from property or payment. Bryson said these crimes most commonly involve incidents of not paying for a taxi ride, or leaving a restaurant without paying.

Bryson said the CPD is working with businesses to warn them of such thefts, and is collaborating with restaurants and bars to help lower the number of cell phone and purse thefts. Officers are asking business owners to keep an eye out for patrons who may be leaving property unattended and out of sight, and encouraging them to remind customers to stay aware of their surroundings.

CAPS meetings for the first district will resume resume a rotating schedule in November, with meeting locations alternating between 130 N. Garland Ave. and 400 E. Randolph St. The next meeting will be held at 400 E. Randolph St. at 6:30p.m. on Nov. 9th.

Magellan Rewards Festival draws crowds to Lakeshore East

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

October 9, 2017

Under sunny skies, Lakeshore East Park was filled with residents, families, pets and local business owners who came out to support their neighborhood on Sept 23. More than 2000 residents of Lakeshore East enjoyed an afternoon of free entertainment, food, fitness and community, celebrating the 11th annual Magellan Rewards Festival.

The rewards festival is an annual tradition that brings together neighbors from Lakeshore East buildings and representatives from businesses that are within walking distance of the community. This year, over 60 local vendors offered free samples, full meals, cocktails, workout classes, and a variety of specials and sales for their products and services.

Vanessa Casciano, Community Relations Director for Magellan Development Group, created the Magellan Rewards Program 11 years ago as a way to reward local consumers and business owners alike, by offering specials to Magellan residents and exposing nearby businesses to new clients.

Casciano said she “hosts the festival as an appreciation,” and to give business owners a platform for “showing off who they are and what they do.”

 

This year’s festival was one of the largest.

“We think it was a huge success,” said Casciano, “It’s always a win win for everybody involved.”

Amid crowds lined up for food, coffee and cocktails like the Island Party Hut’s summery Mai Tai’s, Casciano said physical activities at the festival were a hit for all.

While hourly fitness classes had full attendance for lessons in yoga, boxing and body matrix, Chitown trainer hosted a squatting competition by their table. Little ones even enjoyed their own area for getting out their energy. Lakeshore Sport and Fitness offered “non-stop action packed kids activities,” said Casciano, with a children’s area featuring a bounce house.

Just beside the jumping tent, free tacos drove the longest line at the festival.
Mezcalina Mexican Restaurant, located at East Benton Place, hosted a tent that offered free chicken, pork or vegetable tacos, with a variety of toppings and sauces.

“They really go the extra mile every year by serving thousands of tacos,” said Casciano, who said the restaurant is a staple “year after year as fan favorite.”

Dozens of other vendors handed out enough free food to fill up festival-goers. Subway offered trays of free cookies, Mariano’s distributed bags of popcorn, and the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park sampled new cupcake recipes.

“This is a great way to test out our new menu item and get reactions,” said Jose Perez, Director of Restaurants and Bars for the Fairmont.

The soon-to-open Drunken Bean served a homemade granola recipe, along with a steady flow of coffee and iced tea. The Lakeshore East Coffee shop turned bar is expected to open in October.

Residents had opportunities to enter dozens of raffles, for activities like free rollerblading lessons or rock climbing experiences at Maggie Daley Park, while learning about services in the neighborhood ranging from dentistry to children’s yoga.

Throughout the day the musical stylings of Lakeshore East’s Musician-In-Residence filled the festival, with Phillip-Michael Scales winning the popular vote to live rent-free for one year in The Shoreham while acting as the neighborhood’s go-to musician.

Casciano said the Magellan Rewards Program started with about 30 businesses involved, and has grown to over 250.

The program is free to all residents and vendors, and Casciano said the only requirement for the free program is that businesses offer ongoing discounts for residents.

While residents of the area get discounts, special opportunities, samples, and an opportunity to learn about what’s in their area, Casciano said she thinks the program is even more beneficial to local businesses.

“They are directly marketing to their local consumers and picking up new clients,” said Casciano.

Residents will receive ongoing specials throughout the year from businesses near their homes, and the festival will return next year with even more rewards.

CAPS officers address community concerns

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

September 21, 2017

If you’re frustrated that complaints to the Chicago Police Department about public safety in your community aren’t being answered, you are not alone.

A standing-room-only crowd gathered at the most recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, meeting at 130 N. Garland Court on Sept. 14 to discuss a variety of community concerns, including homeless populations crowding sidewalks, panhandling, and using drugs on the street.

Most notably, residents at the meeting said they are worried that their complaints to the police aren’t being addressed quickly enough, or ever.

 

How to get results

CPD Officer Nicole Bryson who led the meeting for CAPS beats 111 through 114, said she completely understands why residents are frustrated and offered some suggestions for seeing better results.

“What you say when you call matters,” Bryson said, “because there are certain criteria that have to be met.”

Not every call can be handled by the units dispatched from 911, and not all non-emergency calls can be addressed right away, Bryson said, but there are three things that contribute to seeing progress on non-emergency issues in your neighborhood: the number of calls, the amount of activity, and the volume of complaints.

“The more outcry that you do, the more calls you make, will get you what you need in the district where you reside and the community you pay so much to live in,” Bryson said.

To help residents make more effective reports, the officer offered to organize a workshop this year, led by Office of Emergency Management and Communications staff, that can go over what qualifies as a 911 emergency call, and what residents should say when they phone in.

 

What are all those officers doing?

Residents said at the Sept. 14 meeting that their frustrations are higher because they aren’t seeing results, but are seeing a heavy presence of officers in their neighborhoods, mostly on foot or on bikes.

Many asked – What are they doing? Why can’t they respond to neighborhood calls?

Officer Bryson explained that foot and bike officers can’t always drop assignments to address resident calls, and frequently get called in to respond to crime at the many retail stores in the area.

“Foot officers are the first to be called for thefts in a highly concentrated area,” Bryson said, “They have to multitask between thefts, traffic, parking tickets.”

Sgt. Dombrowski, who also led the meeting, told residents that with 500,000 people in the downtown area on any given day of the week,

“Police are doing everything we possibly can to keep a lid on what could be happening,” Dombrowski said.

 

Are there enough officers?

Officer Bryson told residents that the department is in a backlog every afternoon. That means that while trying to address new concerns, they are still working to solve crimes and reports from hours or days before.

“That’s why it may seem to residents why we’re taking forever or not responding,” Bryson said, “We have a lot of responsibility.”

The sergeant said that there are a “very limited number of officers” available at any given time, but that the department is actively working to raise that number.

“We’re hiring as fast as we possibly can,” Dombrowski said.

Additionally, many officers, who can be seen donning bright orange vests, have taken up “special employment” shifts. This means that on their days off, officers are patrolling areas like the Riverwalk to ensure public safety. This year, new special employment stations have been added to the South Michigan Avenue and Lakefront areas.

 

Why are other areas cleaned up?

Residents commented that other areas in the city, like State and Van Buren, have cleaned up and cleared out when it comes to homeless populations and crime. Officer Bryson said that their process was the same – keep calling and keep complaining, even though it may seem ineffective at the time. While individual calls may not make a difference, continuous, community-wide calls do.

“Stay on it, it takes time,” Bryson said.

Residents also remarked that other areas in Chicago seem safer, cleaner or more crime-free because they are monitored by private security. Areas like Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, and the Riverwalk have independent companies working to patrol the area.

 

Tip: Staying Safe From Intruders

 

If there is a knock on your door and the person says they are from ComEd or People’s Gas, you should be wary about letting them into your home even if you’ve made an appointment. One way to stay safe is to call that company’s customer service line to confirm that a staff member is scheduled to visit your home, and to ask that staff member’s employee ID or badge number. The person on the other side of the door can then confirm that number with you before entering.

 

New Eastside Area Schools Guide

Special back to school feature

 

Lakefront Children’s Academy fosters confidence and learning

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Now in its eighteenth year, Lakefront Children’s Academy is the longest running early education center in New Eastside. Children ages two to six are taught with an individualized curriculum that helps them build a positive attitude toward themselves and learning.

With decades of experience in childcare behind her, owner Cheryl Rogers says her methods for teaching and training educators have developed through trial and error. “You can’t have all academics and you can’t have only ‘learn-through-play,’” said Rogers.  

Teachers at Lakefront run their classrooms with a loving and nurturing, Mary Poppins-like approach. While guiding them through an advanced curriculum, they remain animated and excited to remind the students that learning is fun. The curriculum includes science and computer lessons, as well as activities focused on fostering confidence. School administrator Eilleen Mallary credits the school’s success to its teaching ideals.

“Our philosophy of ‘enriching the mind, one child at a time’ has allowed us to become an anchor of intellectual and cultural guidance in one of Chicago’s fastest growing neighborhoods,” Mallary says.

According to school representatives, 95 percent of preschool and kindergarten students who apply to Chicago’s top private and selected schools are accepted. With a maximum capacity of 57 students split into four classrooms, the average class size at Lakefront is one teacher for every six students. Full-day or half-day toddler childcare, preschool and kindergarten programs are available. Programs at Lakefront Children’s Academy run year-round with rolling admissions, and tuition ranges from $300–400 per week.

Lakefront Children’s Academy

400 E. Randolph St.

(312) 819-1760

www.lakefrontchildrensacademy.com

 

Kiddie College at Maggie Daley Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

The Chicago Park District’s affordable program for early learners named Kiddie College is housed in Maggie Daley Park’s Fieldhouse. The program is offered to children ages three to five

and runs throughout the school year. Class sizes are 20 students with two staff members. Children can learn with their peers through activities like circle time, crafts, music, fitness, stories and games.

“The Maggie Daley camps and classes are awesome,” says New Eastside resident Carolina Patino. “The staff is top notch and is part of the reason they are in very high demand.”

Securing a spot at the popular Kiddie College program requires some preparation. Parents browse offerings online as soon as they are listed, adding programs of interest to their wish lists,

and registering their child as soon as enrollment opens.

“Life stops for that period of registration,” jokes Reemaa Konkimalla, another Kiddie College parent. Still, many parents agree that it is well worth enduring the short period of registration anxiety to secure a spot for their youngsters.

Chicago Park District Kiddie College

Maggie Daley Park Fieldhouse

337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 312-742-3918

www.chicagoparkdistrict.com

 

Ogden International School of Chicago

By Elaine Hyde | Editor

There are many quality schools in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system, from institutions using the Montessori educational approach to magnet and gifted schools. New Eastside is within the attendance boundary of Ogden International School of Chicago, a neighborhood

public school for grades K-8, and selective admission school for grades 9-12.

Offering an International Baccalaureate curriculum, registration typically occurs in August. A bus service, organized by parent volunteers, runs a pick-up and drop-off route in New Eastside.

Elementary grades K-5 attend the East Campus. Grades 6-12 attend classes at Ogden’s West campus.

Ogden International School of Chicago

East Campus (Grades K-5)

24 West Walton Street

Chicago, Illinois 60610

West Campus (Grades 6-12):

1250 West Erie Street

Chicago, Illinois 60642

P: 773.534.0866

F: 773.534.0869

 

GEMS World Academy fosters global citizenship

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

At GEMS World Academy Chicago, the city is an extension of the classroom, and learning often happens through regular field studies. The school’s International Baccalaureate curriculum emphasizes global citizenship, with a focus on mobile learning and creative use of technology. 

Currently, over 400 students in pre-K to ninth grade participate in technology-based expeditions led by experienced teachers. Recently, fifth graders designed a remotely operated vehicle with guidance from Shedd Aquarium scientists. They also used it to capture footage of a trout fingerling release project in Lake Michigan.  

“Lead teachers have masters degrees and at least seven years of experience,” says Delphine Lenoir, director of enrollment management, marketing and communications.

The mission of the school is to teach children how to be “intercultural learners” who will someday become global leaders. In connection with other GEMS schools worldwide, students work with their international peers through digital collaborations and travel exchanges.

Construction of a new Upper School, which will house grades 9-12, will be complete in 2018. Students already enrolled will move into the new building over the 2018-2019 winter break.

GEMS is “a school of the future,” says Ashley Demma, digital media and events manager. “There has never been a better time to join the GEMS family.”

Families interested in enrolling at GEMS can schedule a parent meeting, playgroup or shadow day. Applications for the 2018–2019 school year are taken during fall and are due by December 31.

GEMS World Academy Chicago

350 E. South Water St., Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 312-809-8900

www.gemsworldacademy-chicago.com

 

British International School of Chicago, South Loop

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

British International School of Chicago, South Loop (BISC-SL) delivers a culturally diverse education to its students. With teachers whose experiences span six continents,

families from more than 30 nations are currently enrolled. Students from preschool to 12th grade learn under one roof without ever needing to change schools.

Since its 2015 opening, the 98,000-square-foot “purpose built” school has taught students under a “Be Ambitious” philosophy, encouraging curiosity, open-mindedness and a belief that all  students can pursue their dreams. 

The curriculum includes lessons in French, Mandarin, German and Spanish. “A worldwide perspective is embedded and celebrated every day,” says Courtney Cebula, director of communications for BISC-SL.

British International School of Chicago, South Loop also provides connections to 46 schools in Nord Anglia Education’s Global Campus network and collaborates with other schools like The Juilliard School for their music curriculum and STEAM lessons with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With an average of nine students per teacher, each student receives individual attention to help them navigate the school’s curriculum. Tuition fees range from $13,350 per year for part-time nursery school, to $31,720 per year for secondary school (grades 6–12).

British International School of Chicago, South Loop

161 W 9th St

(773) 599-2472

www.nordangliaeducation.com

 

Bright Horizons at Lakeshore East

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Emphasizing the importance of building social skills and fostering a love of learning, Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool offers programs for New Eastside children ages two to

five years old. At its Lakeshore East and River East locations, Bright Horizons

prepares children for grade school with language, math, art and science skills.

With a maximum enrollment of 42 students, class sizes are limited to eight students per teacher. The small classes give teachers the ability to observe each student individually and identify their

interests. Each program operates by teaching children with project-based learning, in which teachers observe and document the interests of each child, analyze their skills, and create

hands-on exploration projects based on that information.

“This approach allows children to problem solve and make decisions on their own from an early age,” says Jennifer Smith, Assistant Director at the Bright Horizons Lakeshore East location.

“It really encourages children to be the thinkers, rather than [letting] the objects or the toys or the activities [do] the thinking for the child,” she explains.

The Lakeshore East Program has limited Preschool and Kindergarten Prep availability. The school has a rolling admissions schedule. Families can start their admissions process as early as during pregnancy by joining the waiting list. Tuition ranges from $1,029 –$2,110 per month.

Bright Horizons at Lakeshore East

360 E. South Water St.

Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 312-565-7300

Bright Horizons at River East

325 E. Grand Ave.

Chicago, IL 60611

312- 527-3573

www.brighthorizons.com

 

The Frances Xavier Warde School

A community of thinkers and leaders

By Elaine Hyde | Editor

The Frances Xavier Warde School (FXW) is an independent Catholic school in downtown Chicago that welcomes and embraces all faith traditions.

In addition to a strong commitment to innovative education, FXW emphasizes serving others. There is also a solid focus on remaining purposely diverse and intentionally inclusive.The warm, welcoming environment at FXW is what draws many families to the school where its community is a defining quality.

FXW is comprised of two separate campuses. Old St Pat’s (OSP) is located in the West Loop and serves over 500 students from three-year-old preschool to third grade. Holy Name Cathedral (HNC), in the heart of downtown Chicago, has over 400 students in grades four through eight.

Upon graduation, FXW students take with them a passion for life long learning and a

commitment to being good citizens of the world. Applications for new preschool students will be available starting on September 15 and on October 1 for students applying to grades one to eight.

The Frances Xavier

Warde School

Holy Name Campus

751 N. State Street

Chicago, IL 60654

Old St Pat’s Campus

120 S. Desplaines Street

Chicago, IL 60661

Phone: 312-466-0700

www.fxw.org

 

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